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a game of gods

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She feels him before anything else. She does not hear the sound of his footsteps, or the soft rhythm of his breath, does not need to turn her head to see him move towards her, she just feels him. The presence that somehow never failed to slow her heartbeat a little and relax her tired bones, growing ever more powerful now. She feels the vibrating magic within him she knew so well, as both a part of her and a part of him. She feels the Veil ripple in response to his presence, bowing before it’s Maker.

“What are you doing here.” It is not a question. His voice is clipped, strained, trying so desperately to stay steady and detached. It does not waver, but it does not need to. She knows it chips away at his resolve every time he lays eyes upon her, and she is glad. It is the only weapon she has.

She doesn’t look up from what’s consumed her focus; a lock – magical and infinitely complicated, weaved from the fabric of a world no longer existing. She is close to cracking it, though she knows she won’t need to.

“Good to see you too, vhenan.” She chirps, her voice too casual and too light, and she knows he flinches behind her back.

“It is not safe for you to be here. You should not have come to this place, not ever, not alone.” He has moved closer, his velvet voice reverberating on the stone walls around her, and she finally turns her head to face him. He looks much the same, a perk of never aging, she supposes. She begins to feel a bit conscious of the way her skin has lost its brightness.

He is wearing a dark green cloak, covering his head, and an ensemble not too far from the armor he wore when he was hers. A wolf pelt over one shoulder of course, a black tunic and belt, footwraps that left his feet bare. She drinks in the sight, eternally grateful he isn’t wearing that ridiculous armor she last saw him in. He looks like him. The waves of power rippling from him is different, of course, but it is not a bad feeling. He keeps the tendrils of humming magic away from her, no matter how desperately they try to reach out.

“In case you hadn’t heard, I’m not the Inquisitor anymore. I no longer make the rules, I receive an assignment, I complete it. Don’t tell me how to do my job, Solas.” She says, punctuated by a roll of her eyes. She’s turning back to the task at hand when he speaks again, his voice closer this time, just over her shoulder – “You must leave this place, Nymeria. Now.” His voice is urgent, condescending, it is so familiar it makes her heart ache.

“And when have I ever listened when you’ve told me what to do?” she says with a dismissive wave of her hand, and she feels him tense behind her in frustration, his magic responding in kind. “Are you just going to stand there and lecture me or are you going to open this damned door? This is starting to really get fucking tediou-“

It happens so fast it’s a blur. The door flies open without even a gesture on his part - the only inclination he did anything is the shifting of the Veil - and in a few swift movements, he is standing in front of her, towering over her in a way that makes her tingle just a little, his face inches from hers. In his right hand, clenched into his fist, is a spear the size of her own body, suspended in in mid-air, his magic and strength the only thing that kept it from plunging into her chest as it sprang from the wall on the other side of the room just revealed to them.

To her credit, she does an admirable job of keeping the shock from showing on her face. Not anticipating any ancient booby-traps was a terrible oversight on her part. But there’s little time to dwell on her recklessness when he’s looking at her like that.

Only inches away from her face, his eyes blaze into hers – the white-blue glow slowly fading back to the blue and purple that she can’t help but see every time she closes her eyes. His chest is heaving, he’s angry and she can feel it in every inflation of his lungs, as his chest grows closer to hers and retreats again. She wants to press herself to him so bad –

“Finally,” she says with a sigh, ducking under his arm and into the room ahead. A library, with arching ceilings and floating bookshelves that came crashing down. Like many she’d seen before, so big she couldn’t see it’s horizon, reaching out into a force that no longer reaches back.

He’s practically fuming as he stalks inside behind her, she can feel him starting to unravel – good.

“You are toying with forces you cannot even begin to comprehend”. His voice is practically a growl. She hopes he can’t see the goose bumps that arise on her arms as it reaches her ears.

She strolls up to the nearest bookshelf and lazily selects a random tome, awkwardly holding back an undignified cough from the dust that rises up into her face. She wonders how old it is and she stop wondering when her head starts to spin with the possibilities.

“As if I’ve ever understood the forces I toy with. I toyed with you for years, didn’t I?” she says with a smirk that she cannot contain.

“You do not understand. For your own safety, please, leave this place – halt your search.” His voice is softer, but still strained. He is so exhausted, she can see it in the hunch of his broad shoulders and the lines of his face. she wants to ask if he’s been taking care of himself. She doesn’t.

“You say I do not understand, yet you refuse to explain.” She says, her voice clipped. “I have no reason to trust you, for all I know, you’re pleading with me to leave because the exact answer I seek is somewhere in this room. You don’t have the best track record when it comes to honesty, vhen-“

“They will use you against me.” He blurts out in a rush. The lack of composure is unlike him, it’s startling. His eyes are shut closed, hard, hands clasped behind his back. She can imagine that his knuckles are white with the force of his grip.

“What?” she says, softly. The book in her hands returns to its shelf.

“They are imprisoned, forced into an unending slumber, yes, but not powerless. Entities like that do not just fade into nonexistence. They can reach and whisper across the Veil just as I have for milennia, and there yet remains plenty still loyal to their ancient masters. They have watched and waited thousands of years for revenge. If they discover their prison warden has a mortal heart, they will not hesitate to tear you to pieces, slowly and agonizingly, to make me pay.”

She is quiet for a few moments. Persecution at the hands of ancient Gods isn’t exactly something she wants to invite into her world, but she doesn’t have much of a choice anymore. She hasn’t had a choice since she left the boundaries of her Clan’s camp. She has a world to save, and she doesn’t believe in Gods, anyway.

“I’ve defeated one God and seduced another, I think I’ll take my chances –“, she is turning back to walk deeper into the library when a shadow passes over one of the rectangles of sun left on the ornate marble floor through the ornate window above her head. Shaped like an elf, and moving with frightening speed.

She doesn’t know if she’s ever seen such terror in his eyes as he looks at her. It does not bode well.

“Come with me, and I will provide you the answers you seek.”

“Give me a single reason to trust you, and don’t you dare lie to me.”

“Because you will never be able stop me if you’re dead.”

A door slams somewhere in the temple behind them and Solas gives up on reasoning with her. His eyes glow for but a moment, and her world fades to black. She wakes up only seconds later to him scooping her up into his arms. She’s shocked, at first, he is so resolute at keeping his distance from her, but she slides into his embrace like she was made to be there. She can tell the abrupt contact after three long years is affecting him too, considering how he practically drops her at first. It only takes a second for him to recover, the resignation and determination on his face is visible, and then he’s sprinting through the twisting halls of the temple, cloaked in a barrier of silence and oversight. Her head rings, just a bit.

“You did that just to be a dick, you knew I was going to come with you.” She says, groggily.

“Perhaps.” There is the smallest hint of a smirk at the corner of his lips, and it takes all of her willpower not to kiss him.

“Glad to see Godhood hasn’t made you any less of a cocky asshole.”

His smirk widens, just a bit.

Gods, she missed him.